This post is lengthy with lots of links but don’t miss the giveaway at the end!
I’m passionate about reading and about promoting reading in my circle of influence. I’m on a quest to read the classics that I never really enjoyed in high school or never read at all. I hope this series will give you inspiration to begin a reading program of your own or to start a book club or reading group. And let’s face it, none of us feel like we have time so it’s a matter of making it a priority. Get up a little earlier and try doing 15 minutes of reading before you do anything else. And never, ever go anywhere without a book. You never know when you might stumble upon 15 unspoken-for minutes.
I’m using Susan Wise Bauer’s book The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had
as a guide and I started a classical bookclub (that’s four years old) of wonderful, smart friends that are crazy enough to read Plato with me. If you’re not a reader and think books aren’t for you, I wish I could sit down with you for an afternoon in my little library and tell you the stories of how all my books have changed my life. My workroom is filled with my favorite books and when I travel, I miss them as much as I miss my bed. Which is a lot! I don’t have access to a good library so Amazon is my friend and my general rule is that I buy books on Kindle that I’m not sure if I’ll want to reread and order real paper and ink books otherwise. Here are my beloved books! You’d miss ’em too, wouldn’t you?! Read books and live a richer and fuller inner life!
To start the series, I thought I’d share my 5 all time favorite books. The ones I read over and over and over, year after year.
Most of the books I will list here I didn’t really ‘get’ until the second or third time through, so be patient with yourself if you’re embarking on a reading plan.
My 5 favorite, most often read books: (You’ll notice my list is heavily skewed toward Lewis but I am a confessed Lewis super fan.)
1. Orthodoxy by G.K Chesterton
I love this book. It’s difficult to read your first time through but don’t give up on it. I love Philip Weingart’s words on Orthodoxy:
“Since Chesterton was both a genius and the son of a saner era than our own, the ideas which coursed through his head may astonish modern readers. He seems to turn the world on its head; the book is a continuous feast of the delightfully unexpected. To Chesterton, faith is reason, orthodoxy is liberty, the order of our universe is as unexpected as the wildest fairy tale, and heeding tradition is as natural as allowing all citizens to vote. Modern readers at first will think him just a little bit crazy, but as they warm up to his approach, they will begin to feel that perhaps his point of view is healthier than theirs, and in the best of cases, they will begin to right themselves.”
2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This is likely the most read book in our house and happens to be the book that led Stevie back to the faith. “A young [agnostic] can never be too careful what he reads,” Lewis once said. Chris Banescu writes:
“Mere Christianity is full of memorable and powerful revelations that elucidate the foundations of Christian theology, our relationship to God, and the meaning of life. Only C.S. Lewis could summarize such broad concepts so eloquently without coming across as overly-religious or preachy. His extraordinary ability to focus on the core tenets of Christianity and explain them with remarkable ease reinforces the wide appeal of his writings.”
3. Evangelical is Not Enough by Thomas Howard
If you are searching for something more than you are finding in modern Christianity, this book will be a treasure to you. If you are enjoying the gifts of God in the liturgy and sacraments, this book will deepen your gratitude. This book is one of my favorites. Peter Kreeft wrote,
“In this deeply moving narrative, Thomas Howard describes his pilgrimage from Evangelicalism (which he loves and reveres as the religion of his youth) to liturgical Christianity…. He describes Evangelicalism with great sympathy and then examines more formal, liturgical worship with the freshness of someone discovering for the first time what his soul had always hungered for.”
4. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
This book is a fantasy about heaven and hell and unlike anything you’ve ever imagined about either. It’s a gem of a book and one that you’ll want to read at least twice. Steve and I have both read it many times and we often will compare people we meet in our daily life to Lewis’ brilliant descriptions of people in the book. It’s short and can be finished in a day or two.
“I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in ‘the High Countries’.”
5. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
Maybe it’s because I’ve known some suffering in my life but this book is like no other. Lewis speaks to the impossible question of why there is suffering in the world and what that suffering means. I’ve read it so many times that it’s like an old friend. I read twice last year and already once this year. It’s hard to pick a favorite quote because there are so many good ones but from chapter 6:
“The human spirit will not even begin to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are, the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked , unmistakable evil, every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt…..And the pain is not only recognizable evil, but evil impossible to ignore. We rest contentedly in our sins and stupidities…..and can even ignore our pleasures, but pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Runner up for most loved book:
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis
I read this book as a present to myself for my 40th birthday and wrote about how this book made real to me my own desperate condition. I just reread it for book club and have no less than 40 pages tabbed of perfect Lewis quotes. It’s the retelling of the Cupid myth and its’ central theme is love. Lewis claimed it was his best work and I may just have to agree.
And my most used book: The Lutheran Book Of Prayer
This book is my constant companion. I read prayers in it every day and copy appropriate ones to give to people who are struggling with this or that life issue. It’s one of my favorite things to give as a gift and it’s the perfect size to fit into your purse, car, desk. There are 4 sets (I think) of prayers for the specific days of the week and then prayers for every holiday, church festival, special day, etc. There are also a host of prayers of petition, for every conceivable situation imaginabl
I also just happen to have an extra copy that I’d love to give away so if you’ll leave a comment listing your 5 (or 1 or 2, etc) all time favorite books, I’ll pick a giveaway winner soon. Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday!
On my reading list this weekend:
1. Finish Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
2. Continue The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis (Plus)
(thanks for the recommendation Dan)
3. Continue reading The Diary of a Young Girl (Everyman’s Library (Cloth))
aloud to the girls.
Hope you enjoy a great book or two this weekend and now tell me your favorite book(s) for a chance to win!
Post Edit:: I’m also thinking of setting up a live chat to finish our Grace Upon Grace book study. If you’d be interested, send me an email to let me know! And I should perhaps have put my Lutheran Study Bible as number 1 but it seems to need a category of its own but is indeed my very favorite book! I’m loving your suggestions so far!